The Butler: John Cusack IS Richard Nixon

Just saw my first rapid fire promo for this flick, and had to look it up. The stunt casting is noteworthy: John Cusack will, from what I read, eschew any prosthetics, and won’t even do the Nixon voice. Guess he’ll just rely on his Oscar caliber acting skills. How about Robin Williams as Ike? At least he’ll be wearing a bald wig, so suspension of disbelief shouldn’t be a problem :slight_smile:

I was impressed by the picture of Jane Fonda and Alan Rickman as the Reagans; they certainly look the part and they both have acting chops, but I’m afraid I’ll keep expecting Reagan to tell somebody “you are a cretin just like your father!”.

John Cusack, Jane Fonda and Robin Williams all playing Republicans?! Oh the humanity! Or rather, oh the jingoistic, one-dimensional, stereotyping portrayals I foresee…

…hijacking thread for discussions of the movie…

Seen it - the portrayals are not jingo-istic, and aren’t written to take the piss out of any of them (except Nixon).

Each of the Presidents (and Nancy) only have a few lines. The scenes are fairly cardboard - they hit the specific historical issue being faced, and then give a line expressing their concerns. I wouldn’t say anyone was treated particularly poorly (except Nixon, they made him just icky), it seemed that instead the filmmaker tried to portray the Republicans as having good qualities, and highlighted their contribution to moving the civil rights issues along - but it’s all done in a sort-of grade school play level of depth.

Any subtext was wholly pulling in the audience’s personal knowledge of the actors, their personal politics, and who they were portraying (Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan!!! wink smirk)

Saw it last night. It was overlong and a bit preachy, but overall I liked it. Forest Whitaker and Oprah Whatsername were good despite occasionally-poor old-age makeup. The White House sets were good but they got the Presidential flag wrong.

Robin Williams looked NOTHING like Eisenhower - in fact, with his glasses on, he looked a little like Truman! He made a much better T.R. in the Night at the Museum movies.

James Marsden was a decent JFK.

Liev Schreiber captured LBJ’s earthiness but not his accent or physical presence.

John Cusack was a very poor Nixon IMHO, despite a prosthetic nose.

Alan Rickman looked a lot like Reagan but didn’t much sound like him.

Here’s the guy the movie was very loosely based on; the articles linked in the first two references are definitely worth a read:

Yeah, the story was very loosely based on Eugene Allen’s life. As far as I know, the only things that matched in the movie were that he was a butler, he was black, and he was married. A more accurate portrayal might be “Backstairs at the White House”, white was the biography of a woman who spent over 30 years working in the White House.


Oscar bait that didn’t work well. It wasn’t just the old age makeup, they couldn’t make Whitaker and Winfrey look young enough for the early scenes either.

But for what it was, it was, I though, a pretty good overview of the civil rights timeline.